Quire concert lifts bell fund in Combe Raleigh


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A spring concert at Combe Raleigh near Honiton has raised £350 for a church bell fund.

Described as a ‘wonderful occasion’, the Beaminster Gallery Quire Spring Concert was in aid of the St Nicholas’ Church Bell Fund.

The parish church – built in the 15th century – currently has three bells, but fundraisers hope to increase the existing ring to six bells.

The concert featured music written nearly 200 years ago.

“St Nicholas’ Church in Combe Raleigh was transported back to the 18th century, during a concert given by The Beaminster Gallery Quire in aid of the Combe Raleigh Bell Augmentation Project,” said Val Moran, who attended the performance.

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“The Quire is part of a country-wide revival of interest in the musical heritage of village churches and chapels of the 18th and 19th century, before the advent of Hymns Ancient and Modern and the installation of organs.”

The singers and band performed in costume, singing and playing original melodies and dances, interspersed with readings about the ‘glory days’ of amateur music-making in village churches.

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“We were entertained and also educated,” said Val. “We learned that the early emigrants to America took with them their tunebooks and their instruments, and we heard some of the music that was subsequently composed there, as well as very recent works written in the style of West Gallery Music.

“The audience were even allowed and encouraged to join in the singing of some items. Both the performers and the audience were fortified during the interval with tea and cakes – as is traditional at St Nicholas’ fundraising events!”

The event added another £350 to the existing fund, which had topped £55,000 last December. The fund is now well on the way to the required final total of £75,000.

“We wish to thank everyone who came along and supported us,” said Trevor Hitchcock, a member of the Combe Raleigh Bell Project and a bell ringer at the church. “It was a wonderful occasion.”

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